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Significance of 'intelligence' - to the industrial revolution

  1. Aug 16, 2004 #1

    Nereid

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    The genesis of this thread is Why this is still Amerikkka, where there was a lively discussion of the extent to which many sub-Saharan countries are still economically undeveloped as a result of the genes of their inhabitants, the extent to which those genes are responsible for agriculture and sedantry animal husbandry not having developed independently there, and other nonsenses.

    This one is somewhat out of sequence, (being #3) and I would like to split it into two parts - pre-Industrial Revolution and post.

    The first in this series Why agriculture and animal husbandry? also contains the general background, extracted from the Amerikkka thread.

    Some additional, relevant posts in that thread:
    (to be continued)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2004 #2

    Nereid

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    (continued)
    (to be continued)
     
  4. Aug 16, 2004 #3

    Nereid

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    Next, some relevant posts from the 'agriculture' thread ...
     
  5. Aug 16, 2004 #4

    Nereid

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    There's some more in that thread, but this is, I think, the essential background.
     
  6. Aug 16, 2004 #5

    Nereid

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    INTENT OF THIS THREAD (please read)

    For the avoidance of doubt, what I would like to accomplish in this thread is as follows:
    1) a scientific look at the extent to which the 'intelligence' of an individual was a factor in her or his success in the society in which she or he lived, before the Industrial Revolution. But not in isolation, in relation to other factors.
    2) a discussion of the extent to which a scientific study of the 'intelligence' of any pre-Industrial Revolution society is possible.

    Why limit the scope to pre-Industrial Revolution times? Many reasons, but primarily because that was the transition to large manufacturing-based economies, and around the start of the most dramatic demographic change for Homo sap.

    Another reason is that I want to separate discussion of 'intelligence' for times after the concept began to receive scientific attention from that before.

    Finally, please note that the factors which lead to the independent development of civilisations is not the focus of this thread (that is #2, yet to be started).
     
  7. Aug 16, 2004 #6

    Nereid

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    RE: the extent to which the 'intelligence' of an individual was a factor in her or his success in the society in which she or he lived, before the Industrial Revolution. But not in isolation, in relation to other factors.

    My feeling is that a person's smarts was at best a minor factor in their social or economic success, in pre-Industrial Revolution societies, throughout the world (some possible exceptions).

    First, almost all human social groups were patriarchal, so (with some exceptions) one's gender/sex was clearly a dominant factor.

    Next, most social groups - other than hunter-gatherers? - were hierarchical, with strata membership determined mostly by birth or marriage. Social mobility as we know it today simply didn't exist. Did wars provide an opportunity for social mobility?
     
  8. Aug 17, 2004 #7
    The g factor and individual success vs the g factor and group success

    If the genesis of this thread is a discussion of the extent to which many sub-Saharan countries are still economically undeveloped as a result of the genes of their inhabitants, why is it a goal of the thread to look at the role of the g factor in the success of individuals? To be consistent, wouldn't we be looking at the role of the g factor in the success of groups?
     
  9. Aug 17, 2004 #8

    Nereid

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    [just an explanation, not a contribution to this thread]Well, that's what 2) is about, but I personally am quite interested to understand better what can be determined about the importance of 'intelligence' for the success of individuals, up to the time of the Industrial Revolution. My interest was triggered by some of the posts in that other thread ... hence the thread generated my interest.[/just an explanation, not a contribution to this thread]

    Oh, and in case anyone is unsure, I am interested in this topic globally, not just one or two regions.
     
  10. Aug 17, 2004 #9

    selfAdjoint

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    New paper on IQ and national development

    This important paper by Jones and Schneider shows that of all the dozens of variables in thousands of regeressions for national development, IQ is statistically the most important.

    From the abstract:

     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2004
  11. Aug 17, 2004 #10

    Bystander

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    "GDP per capita" can be manipulated to be/mean anything --- the reliability of the statistics (
    ) has to doubted on the basis of literacy rates in OPEC nations, their GDP "growth" rates, and measures of national development; one objection regarding connection of "intelligence" to rates of social/cultural development in groups, is that when the development rates are tied to "economic" constructs, the lack of correspondence of definitions between the fields of economics and psychology is going to hinder productive discussion.
     
  12. Aug 17, 2004 #11

    Nereid

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    Thanks SelfAdjoint (and Bystander).

    I was kinda hoping to leave discussion of this area until later, and in another thread; for this thread (and this aspect), I'd like to focus on the question of whether a scientific study of the 'intelligence' of any pre-Industrial Revolution society is possible, and if it is, how one would go about doing such a study.
     
  13. Aug 17, 2004 #12

    selfAdjoint

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    I'll start another thread then. It is an important issue and I do want to respond to Bystander without hijacking this one.
     
  14. Aug 17, 2004 #13

    Nereid

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    Is scientific study of the 'intelligence' pre-Industrial Revolution society possible?

    Thinking about how one might go about such a study ...
    a) start with a good (biological, sociological) theory of intelligence, plug in inputs relevant to a past society (appropriately constrained), turn the handle ...
    b) look for outputs e.g. - a society with 'high intelligence' will (or will not) do the following in the following degree {list}, cf one with 'low intelligence'
    c) weighted mean of all members of the society, e.g. 1 king (mean intelligence 80-120), 1 million peasant farmers (mean intelligence 75-115), ...

    Obviously enormous challenges with all these approaches, even for a recent past society that is both small(ish) and well-studied.

    Anyone else have any ideas?
     
  15. Aug 17, 2004 #14
    The time period in question would go back to points before recorded history and would cover all of the planet. The "smarts" of people living in the Arctic were probably of great importance, on an individual level. Likewise, the Mongoloids who were tested by the Ice Age presumably survived or perished on the basis of their intelligence (as discussed in various places by Richard Lynn).

    Why did you state the time in terms of an event that didn't happen instantly, and didn't happen at the same time throughout the world? In fact, it still hasn't happened in some places. What year do you define as the start of the industrial revolution and why? 1700? 1774? 1873? other?

    There isn't much doubt about that. The sexes have not been equal, with minor exceptions, and that inequality of standing presists today under most religions, especially Islam.
     
  16. Aug 19, 2004 #15

    Nereid

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    Yes, but I'm particularly interested in larger social groups, and those whose food sources were obtained largely by means other than hunting and gathering (why? well, as you say, much of the history of Homo sap. for these is available only through archaeology, which can't really say much about social structure for hunters and gatherers, let alone how 'smarts' would have helped - or hindered - an individual to gain a high social status).
    There's no doubt that social groups of humans needed to have, collectively, a number of different skills and capabilities to survive ... and these skills probably varied a lot between groups living in different places and at different times.
    The key transition I'm interested in - as a boundary - is that to a manufacturing-based economy, which first happened in the UK, and more or less coincided with the advent of control of infectious diseases there. That's also the endpoint for everywhere in the world, because (with some notable exceptions) independent local history pretty much came to an end around then too (and earlier in many places, with the beginning of European colonialism). So yes, it's a fuzzy endpoint.

    Here's an example of why I think an individual's 'smarts' had little impact on her or his ability to influence social status and economic wealth: take the example of a slave, either born a slave, or captured, or condemned to slavery for a 'crime' ... no matter how smart the slave was (or how lacking in smarts), there was little she or he could have done to change her status. Similarly, if you were a king, you were born to it and would die a king; short of a palace coup (which would have resulted in your death) or invasion (ditto), your status would not be open to change, no matter how bright you were. On the wealth side, a really smart king may have been able to amass more wealth for himself, and a less bright one lose much, but a king would still likely be the wealthiest person in the society.
     
  17. Aug 19, 2004 #16
    The specific skills needed for survival obviously depend on location and circumstance, but all have in common the adaptability of the people to deal with real time demands. It is for that reason that intelligence proved to be important. The population groups that were more intelligent were able to invent things that were not developed by less intelligent groups. If you simply examine the Negroid population groups, you can easily see the huge number of missing elements (per my prior comments). Most of these elements (such as written language, large ships, roads, governmental infrastructure, currency, legal systems, powerful weapons, advanced metals, etc.) were developed in all Mongoloid and Caucasoid cultures.

    Wouldn't the advent of the steam engine be particularly important in fixing that unspecified date? The industrial revolution was based on machinery and manufacturing. Even fixing the date of the steam engine is difficult, since one must sort through the date of invention, the first use (about 1762), and widespread use.

    On a statistical basis, I agree. Of course, Spartacus raised an army of 120,000 in about 1 year.

    I get the impression that you are viewing about 100,000 years of history from the perspective of European history of just a few hundred years ago. Perhaps it is true that all of the rest of the world, throughout all of that time, followed the same pattern we see in Europe? For much of the time peroid in question, people presumably lived in small tribes. It is my understanding that small (make that very small) breeding groups were necessary for biological changes to become established (formation of the differences we see between population groups). For that reason, it may be more important to the understanding of the variance in intelligence, for us to understand what was going on during the migration out of Africa, than to worry about anything that happened as recently as 5,000 or fewer years ago.
     
  18. Aug 19, 2004 #17

    selfAdjoint

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    The real human need for any transition is originality. Somebody has to come up with the new idea. History suggests that it is very very rare for any one human being to come up with more than one groundbreaking idea, so you need at least a few people in every generation to get ahead. What could favor or inhibit this? Obviously both nature and nurture come into play. The steam engine could have been invented in the Roman empire; they had Heron's steam whirlygig and they also had force pumps to pump out mines. Somebody needed to put two and two together, but no-one did.
     
  19. Aug 19, 2004 #18
    I think that in this discussion, we should limit our argument to deductive and inductive reasoning born from the generally agreed upon recorded history of Homo Sap. These individuals who google for studies that support their theories on genetic racial inferiority should be considered out of bounds, due to the fact that none here have the ability to independently reproduce and corroborate their findings as valid.

    One has to seriously look at answering the question of how did the Sub Saharan African survive so many thousands of years. Not only survive, but actually flourish, as recorded by some of the first European explorers to enter the interior of Africa. Ultimately, the goal of all life is survival and reproduction to continue the blood line. Thus this is the measure of biological intelligence and strength, if not intellectual intelligence and strength. We all know that the Sub Saharan African has the highest population growth rate in the world, while the wealthy nations of European descent generally have the lowest population growth rate. One can argue that there have been creators far more intelligent than the cock roach, yet, few, if any, has had the longevity and ability to survive and perpetuate its bloodline and species as it has.

    For analogy, let us look at the juxtaposition of a sprinter vs. the marathon runner in head to head competition. How does one determine which is superior at a point in time in the race? The answer is that one cannot unless one knows where the finish line is. The shorter the distance between the starting point and the finish line, the increased probability that the all out expenditure of energy will produce the sprinter as superior. However, the longer the finish line is from the start, the increased probability that the sprinter strategy is that of the fool, while the slow pace of the marathon runner is that of true biological intelligence. The reason being is that the marathon strategy conserves and paces energy for the future and long run.

    In light of this analogy, the fact that at a point in time one race may be ahead of another is meaningless outside the context of knowing where the finish line is. For example, take the scenario of a race that becomes so knowledgeable that the knowledge ultimately resulted in instruments of humanities own destruction. How intelligent should that be considered, for the biological prime directive of survival and the perpetuation of the blood line? I am not sure that the term is appropriate, but such would be the product of intellectual intelligence, but a drought in emotional intelligence. On the other hand, the so-called more primitive race would have ensured a longer human existence, even if the quality of life of this race was less than that of the knowledgeable race who advance to their own destruction.

    Living closer to harmony with nature makes one more vulnerable to nature, but at the same time, it offers a greater longevity for humanity. The exponential increase in science of the modern man has increased the probability of our own self destruction exponentially as well. Everything is a trade off and true intelligence and wisdom recognizes this fact.
     
  20. Aug 19, 2004 #19

    Evo

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    Why do you feel the need to single out black populations in Africa? There are other populations around the world that also fit your descriptions. Why do you make the assumption that it was lack of intelligence and not lack of necessity?

    I've noticed this pattern in your posts and was curios as to why you single out blacks.
     
  21. Aug 19, 2004 #20
    Good analogy.
     
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